TJ Doheny, pictured above, re-established Irish boxing’s proud link to the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo on Thursday night.
The unbeaten Portlaoise southpaw, a former member of the IABA High-Performance Unit, dethroned Japan’s defending champion Rysouke Iwasa to claim the IBF title after a thrilling 12-rounder.
The win arrived over fifty years after Belfast lightweight Jim McCourt claimed bronze for Ireland at the same venue at Toyko 1964.
Iwasa’s sponsors presented the champion with the keys to a top of the range luxury car after he won the IBF title in 2017.
But his Ferrari hit a Laois speed bump in the Land of the Rising Sun, with former Portlaoise BC stand out Doheny, who switched codes in 2012 after moving to Australia, earning a unanimous decision in his 20th fight.
Olympic siler medallist and ten-time Irish Elite champion Ken Egan hailed the performance of his former Irish team-mate.
Over half a century before Doheny’s win, McCourt, pictured, claimed bronze at Tokyo 1964 eight years after the athlete he described as an inspiration, Johnny Caldwell, also of the Immaculata BC, won bronze at the 1956 Melbourne Games.
The Immaculata BC southpaw, a bronze medal winner for Ireland at the 1965 European Championships in Berlin, wore the Irish lightweight vest with distinction at the 1964 Games at the Korakuen Hall, then called the Korakeun Ice Palace.
A hat-trick of victories over Bun-am Sug of Korea, Ghulam Sarwar of Pakistan and Domingo Barrera of Spain saw McCourt reach the last-four, thus guaranteeing a 6th medal for Ireland from four Olympics since 1952.
Vellikton Barannikov of the USSR awaited in the semi-final, but McCourt, who had won all of his bouts 4-1 up to the semi-finals, was shaded on a split decision.
Meanwhile, the qualifiers for Tokyo 2024 begin early next year. It’s expected that the boxing event at the 32nd Olympiad will be hosted in the Korakeun Hall which was built in 1962.
Irish squad at Tokyo 1964 Olympics (Korakuen Hall)